Hightlights: 1936-1939

~ For the cost of a quarter, the “movies” included a newsreel, serial, cartoons, the feature film(s), and a chance at a door prize
~ Big musical artists of the day included Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Fred Astaire, and Frank Sinatra


  • Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell is published and wins the Pulitzer Prize
  • The Collected Poems 1909-1935 by T.S. Eliot is published
  • The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture
  • Chart-toppers include Pennies From Heaven by Bing Crosby, The Way You Look Tonight by Fred Astaire and Summertime by Billie Holiday
  • Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig lead the New York Yankees to victory over the New York Giants, winning the World Series
  • John Maynard Keynes revolutionizes economic theory by shifting the paradigm focus from micro to macroeconomics, stating that the government should step in to control the economy through public policy since the free market system has failed to produce enough jobs
  • The Santa Fe Railroad inaugurates passenger train service between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California.
  • Jesse Owens wins four Olympic gold medals in Berlin for track and field
  • The first prefrontal lobotomy is pioneered and performed by Walter Freeman and James Watts
  • A severe drought (later known as The Dust Bowl) continues to devastate the Midwest and forces migrant workers known as “Okies” to scramble westward in search of jobs
  • The Hoover Dam is completed
  • Merchant Marine Act: passed by Congress, subsidizes private cargo vessels and crews that can be called upon to serve as naval cargo transport vessels and crews during wartimes
  • King Edward VIII of England abdicates to marry American actress Wallis Simpson. King George VI ascends the throne.
  • The Rome-Berlin Axis is formed
  • Hitler remilitarizes the Rhineland
  • The Spanish Civil War: Francisco Franco is elected to lead the fascist/nationalist/insurgent Popular Front (backed by Italy and Germany) against the socialist/bourgeois/republic government (backed by the U.S.S.R.), in an attempt to redistribute the wealth. Many Irishmen and Irish Catholic churches supported Franco, having just come out of a similar civil rebellion, and in September of 1936 the Irish Brigade sent volunteers to fight for the Popular Front.



  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck are published
  • Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is the first full-length animated film
  • Shall We Dance starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dances across screens
  • The Life of Emile Zola wins Best Picture
  • Chart-toppers include One O’Clock Jump by Count Basie, Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman and Sweet Leilani by Bing Crosby
  • New York Yankees again beat the New York Giants to win the World Series
  • Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific
  • The Golden Gate Bridge opens
  • Hormel’s produces spam
  • Memorial Day Massacre in Chicago. Union marchers at the Republic Steel Plant are shot at by the police and ten people die. This is one of many labor strikes happening all across the nation within this decade
  • The Hindenberg zeppelin explodes as it arrives in New Jersey
  • The central Basque town of Guernica is bombed by German aerial pilots. This event is turned into a visceral mural by Picasso and unveiled at the Paris World Exhibition.
  • Japan invades China


  • Superman debuts under Action Comics
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is published and wins the Pulitzer Prize
  • You Can’t Take It With You wins Best Picture
  • Chart-toppers include Begin the Beguine by Artie Shaw, Thanks For the Memory by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross and Whistle While You Work from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  • New York Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series
  • Orson Welles broadcasts H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds on the radio, inciting a mass riot amongst people who tuned in late and truly believed Earth was being invaded
  • Xerox photocopying debuts
  • LSD is developed
  • A one-pound steak costs 20 cents
  • Ballpoint pens are invented by a Hungarian named Laszlo Biro
  • Howard Hughes breaks the trans-global flight record, completing his round-the-world flight in 3 days, 9 hours,  and 17 minutes
  • Fair Labor Standards Act bans child labor and establishes the first federal minimum wage at 25 cents/hour with a maximum of 44 hours/week, with the intent of adjusting these to 40 cents/hour and 40 hours/week in 1940. This act also establishes time-and-a-half pay.
  • Germany annexes Austria and Czechoslovakia in a move known as Anschluss
  • Munich Agreement: meeting between the leaders of Great Britain (Neville Chamberlain), Germany (Adolf Hitler), Italy (Benito Mussolini), and France (Edouard Daladier) ceded the border territory of Czechoslovakia’s Sudatenland to Germany as long as Hitler agreed not to annex the rest of Czechosovakia. Chamberlain and Hitler go on to sign a separate agreement, stating that if Hitler breaks his word, Great Britain and France will go to war with Germany, but otherwise Hitler is allowed to do as he pleases with all his recently-annexed territories.


  • Gone With The Wind hits big screens with Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh and goes on to win Oscars for Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Director, Adaptation of a Screenplay, and Film Editing, Art Direction, and Cinematography
  • The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland transports audiences somewhere over the rainbow
  • Chart-toppers include Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland, Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller and Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is published, inspired by the plight of the “Okies” during the Dust Bowl
  • William Hewlett and David Packard found Hewlett-Packard
  • Pan Am offers the first regularly scheduled transatlantic passenger flights
  • New York World’s Fair opens
  • Sigmund Freud dies
  • Joe DiMaggio leads the New York Yankees to World Series victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Lou Gehrig retires at the end of the season due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • Germany invades Poland, inciting Great Britain and France declare war on Germany
  • Franco’s nationalists overtake Spain, ending the Spanish Civil War